In order to be effective deliverance workers, intercessors or ministers, we need to "practice what we preach." Paul made this point in 1 Corinthians 9:26-27: "I don't know about you, but I'm running hard for the finish line. I'm giving it everything I've got. No sloppy living for me!

"I'm staying alert and in top condition. I'm not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself" (The Message). It is easy for most believers to recognize Satan as evil, but it seems to be difficult for some to see their flesh as evil.

However, it is the season for the saints of God to get their houses in order. Accept the fact that your flesh has a mind of its own (see Rom. 8:5-8). It must be sternly dealt with, or it will run the house. Getting deliverance is one thing; sustaining it is another. There are several spiritual keys to maintaining your deliverance.

Key No. 1: Remain connected. First Peter 5:8 warns us that our adversary is seeking whom he may devour. One of his primary targets is a believer who does not have the proper spiritual connection or covering in two areas:

**Leadership. God gave gifts (the fivefold ministry) to the church for the maturity of the saints (see Eph. 2:20). Individual believers need to be touched by each of the fivefold ministries of the church--including the apostolic and prophetic ministries.

**Fellowship. God warns us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together (see Heb. 10:24-25). Those who allow themselves to be separated from the flock will be devoured by the lion.

Key No. 2: Separate yourself from the accursed thing. In the days of Joshua, the Israelites were known as people of victory. They were famous for deliverance. But their challenge was dealing with the spoils of their victory. In Joshua's case, God commanded that they not take any of the enemy's goods (see Josh. 6:18). The four lepers who sat at the gate of Samaria were to take of the goods, but hoarding them would cause them to lose their deliverance (see 2 Kin. 7).

When God has delivered you and you obtain victory in an area of your life, you must have an ear to hear the further instructions of the Lord. God takes you from one level to the next, but there are new devils on every level. When you get saved and delivered, you do not join a club membership; you enroll in the greatest army ever! God is taking His people from a "membership mentality" to a "warfare mentality" (see Judg. 3:1).

Key No. 3: Study the Word of God. Second Timothy 2:15 says that if you study the Word of God, you will not be ashamed. It also says that studying the Word will give you the ability to rightfully divide the word of truth. The urgency of studying the Word is made clear in the story of Hymenaeus and Philetus (see 2 Tim. 2:16-18). They made an error concerning the truth that caused them to lose their deliverance and to be turned over to Satan.

Their sin was said to be blasphemy. According to 2 Timothy 2:16, vain babblings will increase and lead to more ungodliness. When you do not rightfully divide the truth, it will devour your deliverance.

Key No. 4: Break old ties and soul ties. Second Corinthians 5:17 describes true deliverance. Old things are passed away, and, when people see us, all things in our lives appear new.

Romans 12:2 says to be "transformed" into the image of Christ and not "conformed" to the image of the world. The image of the world represents what you've come out of. The image of Christ is what you are moving toward. The "new man" will not fit over the old man. Just like a floor that must be stripped and buffed before it is waxed, you must be stripped of every troubling sin or weight. Stay away from the thing from which you have been delivered (see Heb. 12:1).

Key No. 5: Guard your thought life. You are only as delivered as you think you are (see Prov. 23:7). My strongest bondages were cigarettes and cocaine. After I was set free by the power of Jesus Christ, the devil would place images before me to make me think I was still bound by these addictions.

He told me I was still a junkie. But I knew I was free. When Satan spoke, I heard him from afar because God's voice was so much louder. God said that we would know His voice and this would help us not to follow the enemy (see John 10:5).

People think that when the devil speaks to them, something is wrong. But if he is speaking to you, you are doing something right. Take responsibility for your deliverance. Once you have submitted yourself to God, learn to resist the devil. If you do, he must flee! (See James 4:7.)

The devil is not trying to talk you out of what you do not have. He is targeting you because you have something he wants. Guard your thought life from the enemy. He wants to confuse you and cause you to doubt your purpose in God. Any voice that does not speak the truth (the Word) is of the devil.